Opponents: London Malory Competition: National League Division 1 Date: Saturday 29th November 2003 Venue: University Of London, Osterley Result: 3-2 Win (22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-13, 15-6) Headline: Docklands shock the champions Author: Andy Hopper
The match started on a sombre note with a minutes silence impeccably observed for the EVA's President, Neville Lewis, who died during the week. Although Neville had been President for only a few months he had already given a great deal of his life to volleyball and will be sorely missed.
London Docklands Volleyball moved back to second place in the Prosport National League Division 1 with a remarkable performance against the current league champions. London Malory have dominated English volleyball for the last 15 years but Docklands have now won their last four encounters. The latest instalment of the keenest of men's volleyball's rivalries was a thrilling five set match that saw Docklands come from behind twice.
Docklands started confidently, buoyed by a powerful service run from Albrecht Glitz they took an early 11-7 lead. But the experienced Malory side clawed their way back and the scores were level by 18-18. Led by ex-England setter Richard Dobell, Malory turned up the heat and despite some valiant defence from Docklands' Andy Vincett, Malory took the first set 25-22.
A couple of seasons ago, Docklands would have probably folded after such a disappointing end to the first set. But coach Ian Legrand has built a squad with great self-belief and toughness, and this showed itself in set two. Docklands' passing unit continued to cope with Malory's serve with ease giving Vincett options in attack that Malory could not cope with. His favourite hitters Jesse Kaptein and Glitz despatched a number of unreturnable attacks while middle hitter Boris Halatchev was always a threat at the net and was a constant thorn in Malory's side. Docklands were able to open up an early four point lead that despite a late comeback from the home side, Docklands levelled the match with a 25-23 second set win.
At the start of the third set Malory enjoyed the early exchanges and took a 14-8 lead with Joe Mildred showing off his array of shots and England's captain Alex Bialokoz putting away any chances that came his way. But after a time out by Legrand his team started to play with more freedom and with increased service pressure on Malory's fragile passing unit they closed the gap to just one point. But Docklands were unable to maintain this effort and the set slipped away from them 25-20.
However, Docklands took heart from their fight back and managed to raise their game. Vincett started the ball rolling with a run of four serves that included one ace and put Malory immediately on the back foot. Docklands seemed to be scoring at will and with Martin Blake and Halatchev putting in a series of devastating blocks, Malory's attackers started to make uncharacteristic mistakes that gifted Docklands priceless points. However, one point epitomised Docklands' play. Docklands were leading 22-12, and with the set almost certainly won Glitz chased down a seemingly lost cause and made a dramatic pick-up against the wall. The ball was then lofted back over the net for Malory to in theory make a simple point. But Glitz was back in position at the net and produced the block of the match against American John Hedlund. The Docklands' supporters went wild. Docklands closed out the set 25-13 after another run of serves from Vincett.
Winning a set 25-13 signifies a real drubbing and Malory are often the team who hand out such a beating . The 25 rally-point scoring system was introduced five years ago and Malory had just scored their lowest ever set score. It would take a very good team to come back from that blow and on this occasion Malory were not up to it. Vincett again put in a series of tough float serves and Docklands' blockers put up an impenetrable wall time after time to thwart the Malory attack. As the teams changed ends Docklands were 8-3 up and totally in control of the game. Docklands maintained the pressure on the home side, which started to make more unforced errors. Docklands had their first match point at 14-5 and if it weren't for an odd refereeing decision they would have won it. Despite this Docklands' captain Glitz produced the final blow, to take the set 15-6, probably Malory's worst ever fifth set loss.
After the game Docklands' coach Legrand was almost lost for words but he managed to say "that was a very pleasing result and probably the best of our four wins in a row against Malory. I am very proud of the whole team. This was a real team performance." Docklands' captain and man of the match, Albrecht Glitz, added "this result will send shock waves through the whole of English volleyball and nicely opens up the league again."
must now ensure that they end the year with two more wins against London
rivals Aquila Lynx and Polonia Ealing.